History, Memory, and the Body in American and African American Culture and History
Arlene R. Keizer
In American culture, the treatment of the black female body has been at the center of a number of critical legal precedents and controversies, since the founding of the first American colonies. From the 1662 decision by the Virginia legislature that, for the enslaved, “the child shall follow the condition of the mother” to the furor over Justin Timberlake’s inadvertent exposure of Janet Jackson’s nipple during a 2004 performance, the black female body has had an impact in American culture disproportionate to the numbers of black women in the US. This talk will trace the links between historical events, representational choices made by the dominant culture and by black writers and visual artists, and the African American struggle for identity.